In France, when they can’t remember something, they blame it on “a hole in the memory.” Through the hole in my memory have poured out not only the names of people I met yesterday, the password to almost every one of my computer accounts and the plot of the movie I saw last week, but also what the heck happened in my life for the entire 12 months of 2011.
Without checking my calendar, I can’t remember a thing that happened in March… or May. It’s like reviewing the ‘80s where whole years happened, hundreds of days filled with triumphs and struggles and worries and hugs, leaving not one memory I can summon up right now without help. This is not about growing older; I’m pretty sure I was the same way in college. It’s about stopping to record events before they evaporate, before they wind up in the same place as my high school yearbook, safe, under my roof, but completely inaccessible.
When you look back in time they say your teenage years stand out more vividly in memory because those are the years you do so many things for the first time. Mmmmmm, let’s see… 2011. As I shuffle through my mental rolodex, what did I do for the first time this year? For the first time this year I fixed a computer snafu by myself. I learned how to use a digital camera. I tried fly fishing and did some major hiking in Colorado. Those days are easy to remember because I was pretty proud of my outdoorsy-challenged Brooklyn self. In California I stayed at the kind of hotel I used to roll my eyes at…where they came around and cleaned your sunglasses while you lie by the pool… and I loved it. And this year I got “threaded” for the first time, an ancient and effective beauty regimen I highly recommend.
This year, after a friend who survived the death of a child, a triple bypass and lung cancer, tripped, hit his head, fell into a coma and died, I started to really feel my age. When a lifelong, high maintenance friend unjustly accused me of upsetting her, for the first time in 30 years I did not apologize, choosing instead to use the break in our relationship to evaluate what goes on between us. And, when faced with a professional situation where six months of work on a brutally stressful project were judged a failure by an inexperienced (and obviously wrong!) critic, I walked away instead of defending myself. For the first time I realized that quitting can sometimes be nobler than continuing to fight a losing battle.
This year I did a few things for the last time as well. I bought my last expensive skin-tightening jar of baloney in a bottle, my last crock o crème, finally listening to reason rather than hype. If the trade off for looser skin is a lessening of insecurity and self doubt, it’s so worth it. I stopped worrying about the evils of red meat and milk and sunshine and put David Mamet’s quote “Worry is interest paid in advance for a debt that never comes due,” on the bulletin board above my computer. It might take till 2013, however, to include global warming, pollution, the ozone layer and the rainforests (not to mention terrorism, healthcare and gas prices) on that list.
May your 2012 be full of many successful, life enhancing first times and as many satisfying soul enriching last times. And may you remember them all at year’s end!